2021 Year in Review

It’s been roughly two years since the beginning of COVID, and I’m glad to say that things feel like they’re getting back on track. Here are some personal highlights and reflections on 2021.

What went well this year?

I got engaged! Undoubtedly the most important event of the year, I got engaged on @September 18, 2021. The proposal took place on a hiking trail in the Presidio, with a surprise celebration on the parade lawn.

Anna and I with some dog friends
Anna and I with some dog friends

Consistent journaling. I’m happy to say that I’ve built a strong journaling habit, and only missed a handful of days in 2021. This was partly motivated by Matthew Dicks’ idea called “Homework for Life”. Essentially, writing down what made each day uniques helps build a feeling that time passes slower. Looking back, each day with a journal entry feels meaningful, whereas the days with gaps feel lost.

My favorite part of the Greece trip, running from Thira to Oia. I also ate at my favorite restaurant of the year in Santorini,
My favorite part of the Greece trip, running from Thira to Oia. I also ate at my favorite restaurant of the year in Santorini, Selene.

Travel. Fortunately, international travel picked up this year with the rollout of vaccines. I traveled to Greece for the first time (Athens, Naxos, and Santorini). I also spent a week in Mexico City, and another week in the Dominican Republic. Within the US, I joined Anna in Boston for the Boston Marathon. We stayed at Sea Ranch for the first time as well.

Outdoor climbing. Outdoor rock climbing has been a great COVID-friendly activity. I took trips to climb in a few different places: Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and Malibu. I’ve started to get comfortable leading the easier outdoor routes, and took a class from Saano Adventures on anchor building that I’d highly recommend.

Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park.
Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park.

Crewed at Western States. This was one of the most memorable weekends of the year. A friend, Pan Sohmnhot, ran this year, then went on to finish the “Grand Slam of Ultrarunning”: four 100-mile races in a single summer. I’m not sure if I’ll be running an ultra any time soon, but I was definitely inspired to try one in the future.

Shoveling ice in Pan’s bandana in the 100-degree heat.
Shoveling ice in Pan’s bandana in the 100-degree heat.

Changed my perspective on eating meat. Aside from some wild salmon my father caught, I haven’t had any meat in the house in about a year and a half. I used to think that I needed a meat protein for a meal to feel filling, a holdover from when I did a lot of weightlifting. But now we’re cooking with a lot beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. This was partly motivated by reading How Not to Die by Michael Greger. I’d also recommend the cookbook Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor.

Returned to the Notion office (for a bit). I was happy to meet many of my teammates for the first time, and to enjoy Notion’s beautiful Mission office. I also hit my 1-year work anniversary in November.


What didn’t go well this year?

Spread too thin. I learned a bit about many new things this year, and I’m thankful for that. But I didn’t spend enough time in any one area for it to be truly rewarding. I learned about options trading, jiu jitsu, tennis, and flying small planes. I love sampling hobbies, but I think hobbies get more rewarding the closer you get to mastery. Some of the time spent exploring new things could have been put towards deepening what I already enjoy.

Reading. I wasn’t very methodical in my reading this year. I bought a lot of new books, but jumped between them too much. I don’t necessarily expect to finish every book I start, but I want to be more intentional about it. On the positive side, I re-read the Courage to Be Disliked, and found it very meaningful. I also enjoyed a science fiction series called the Hyperion Cantos, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and The Sun Also Rises.

Learning about engineering. While I picked up a few new things in my daily work (fortunately, we’re using SwiftUI and Combine at Notion), I didn’t dedicate much time outside of work to improving my craft.

What I learned

Go deeper on fewer things. I’d like to go deeper on a few things, as opposed to sampling lots of new stuff. For next year, those things will be:

  1. Becoming a better software engineer. In past years, I’ve tried to keep up with the latest developments via WWDC and other publications. I want to make sure I’m continuing to incorporate that content into my learning sessions.
  2. Running (and then rock climbing, once I run the Boston Marathon in April). I’d like to get lead certified at an indoor gym, and climb off of an anchor I’ve set myself outdoors.
  3. Language learning. This is a life-long process, but I’d really love to make meaningful progress in German this year. I wrote a bit more what I plan to do next year in
    Language learning goal: B2 in German by next September

Be more intentional about what I read. I need to follow my own advice in

. In 2022, I’d like to find a middle ground between jumping between six books at once and forcing myself to finish every book I start. I’d also like to produce something for each book I finish. Sharing my notes might be easier than writing a full review in
Book reviews